First, I wanted a phone based on the Google Android operating system. Second, I wanted it on the Verizon network. The Droid offered both, so I was keen to check it out in stores and put it on my Christmas list.
But then I heard the HTC Droid Eris was also coming down the pike and my attention shifted to that device. It costs $100 less, which I'm sure a lot of folks will find attractive in these cost-constrained times. It also offers a touch screen, but no physical keyboard.
Still, I thought it was better to try both before putting them on my wish list, so I asked Verizon for review copies. Instead of the Droid versus iPhone grudge match retold (Robert Scoble does an admirable job here), I'm putting the Droid and Eris in the steel cage.
Full disclosure: I tend to be on the frugal side, so I was biased toward the Eris from the start. The Droid is $199.99 after rebate, while the Eris is $99 after rebate. That $99 sounds a lot better.
My ground rule for testing and comparing the phones was that I wanted to turn them on and begin using them without looking at the tip guides. Call it an intuitiveness test.
The Eris runs Android 1.5, the Droid runs Android 2.0. After using both phones extensively for three days, I'd be lying if I could say I could tell a difference in performance between Android 2.0 and Android 1.5.
One thing to note: Eris lets you pinch and zoom-the Droid does not currently offer this multitouch capability. However, Phandroid notes, "While the Android Browser doesn't have multitouch capabilities by default, the operating system itself supports multitouch." That doesn't help in the short term when people want to use this feature.
Still, navigating the phones was light and breezy, as I was able to flit from one application or phone feature to the next with virtually none of what I call "get-up-to-speed time" learning how to use the devices.
Call quality and messaging were great on both devices. I can't complain about any dropped calls either.